Sound Testing for Building Regulations Part E

Sound Testing for Building Regulations Part E
To help our clients understand and prepare for their sound testing we have written the following document:

What is sound insulation?
Sound insulation is the property of a wall and /or dividing partition to resist the passage of noise preventing sound travelling from one property to another.

Why do I need sound testing on my Project/Property?
One of the largest single reasons for disputes between neighbours is noise complaints. Approved Document Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound describes minimum standards to be achieved by newly built domestic dwellings. New builds need to achieve a sound test result of 45dB and above and conversions 43dB and above.

What is sound insulation testing for Part E of Building Regulations?
Sound Insulation Testing is a method of quantifying the sound insulation performance of walls and/or floors. Sound insulation testing can be carried out on party walls, party floors or facades of any building.

Why is sound testing required on my Project?
The largest single reason for disputes between neighbours is noise complaints. Approved Document Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound describes minimum standards to be achieved by newly built domestic dwellings.

What part of the Building Regulation do we need to work to?
Approved Document Part E, sets out the minimum standards for the performance of sound insulation to be achieved by party wall and party floors. Building contractors may show Part E compliance by two methods. One method is to register plots to be built with Robust Standard Details Limited and the other is to show as-built performance by Sound Testing.

When are Sound Tests carried out?
Sound testing is carried out when the construction of party walls and floors are complete. Windows should be in place with any vents closable. Internal and external doors should be in place, along with skirting, cornicing and plug sockets in place. Sound testing on floors must be carried out before any soft coverings are in place.

Do detached properties require sound testing?
No, only attached properties require sound tests, detached properties share no common partitions with any other properties.

Are internal walls/floor between rooms within a single dwelling sound tested?
No, Laboratory test based performance standards (Rw) exist for certain internal walls and floors, but they are not intended to be verified as-built by on site measurement and therefore sound testing is not a requirement under Part E of Building Regulations.

How many sound tests are needed on my Project?
Approved Document E states that one set of sound tests is required for every 10 units in a group or sub-group. A group or sub-group is defined where significant differences in construction or layout occur. For a pair of semi-detached Houses – a set of tests would usually comprise two airborne sound insulation tests of a separating wall – usually through the ground floor lounges and 1st floor bedrooms.

For Flats (up to 10 units) – a six pack would normally be required, this comprises of: two airborne wall tests, two airborne floor tests and two impact floor sound tests. The easiest way to work out the number of tests required is to multiply 1 x 6 packs for every 10 flats, i.e. if you have 22 flats you will require 3 x 6 packs which equals 18 sound tests in total.

For Rooms for Residential Purposes (student accommodation, hotel rooms, care homes etc.) – a set of tests would usually comprise: one airborne sound insulation tests of a separating wall; one airborne sound insulation test of a separating floor; one impact sound transmission test of a separating floor.

How are plots selected for sound testing?
We will usually specify the sound tests that are required. We first look at the plans then work a testing schedule taking into account testing through both the projects lounges & bedrooms where possible. The building control officer, warranty provider or other concerned parties may require you to carry out sound testing in specific areas or plots.

However where this has not been stipulated we can advise accordingly. When we have specified the sound testing schedule it should always be checked by building control and/or the client to seek their approval.

How do I prepare my Site for Sound Testing?
We always send out a checklist with our fee proposals to help you prepare for the sound testing, as we always want our clients to be fully prepared so the sound test can be passed at the first attempt.

Will the sound testing disrupt work on site?
There should be minimal site disruption during the sound insulation testing. However, although high levels of noise are generated but in order to make accurate test measurements, relatively quiet conditions are needed to take accurate measurements. This means that anyone working in the testing area will have to leave temporarily and any noisy works in the vicinity of the test rooms will need to be halted i.e. using power tools.

How long will the sound test take?
The time taken for sound testing varies with site conditions, but generally a ‘6 pack’ set of tests on houses and flats takes about one to two hours. Obviously this depends on the site being fully prepared in line with our sound testing checklist.

How do I know if I’m ready for a sound insulation test?
Plots should be at least at second fix stage – for further details please refer to our checklist.

Do I need all internal and external doors and windows installed?
Yes, all internal and external doors must be fitted and operable prior to the sound testing. Trickle vents must also be installed where required.

What if I only have 110 volt on site and not 240V?
Unfortunately we cannot undertake the testing; we will need 240V to undertake the sound testing.

Should I inform my neighbours of the impending sound testing?
If the building is attached in any way to occupied properties then you will need to inform the neighbours. To comply with Part E we need to gain access to the neighbouring properties to undertake the sound test.

Can you offer advice to help me to pass my sound testing?
We offer an acoustic design service to help your building/s pass the precompletion sound testing. we just require the plans and sections during the design stages of the project, thereafter we can check the design to see if there are any junctions or details where ‘noise flanking’ may occur.

Do you have a worksheet to help us prepare for the sound testing?
Yes, we have an informative checklist to help prepare for the testing, please visit our website at: to download the checklist.

Is it easy to upgrade my sound insulation in my Existing Home?
Sometimes it can be as easy as installing an acoustically (insulated) backed board against the offending partition. In all instances it is important not only that the right products are used to cause minimal disruption but they are also fitted correctly in-line with manufacturer’s guidelines.

If you would like more information on our full range of sound testing services, please contact us now at, visit the APT Sound Testing website or call us on 07775 623464